Sunday, 21 April 2019 : Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! The Lord Jesus has risen in glory! As the time of Easter finally comes, we celebrate after the long wait and expectation during the season of Lent, because we have had true joy in Christ, Our Lord and Saviour by all that He has done for us. He has released us from the tyranny of sin and the bondage of death, and showed us all the path to eternal life.

On this day Christ showed His power and might, revealing His victory over even sin and death, two things that have kept us under their dominion all these while. He has fulfilled completely all that the Lord has promised His people from the beginning of time, their liberation and reconciliation, which He has done by His loving sacrifice on the cross, and bringing the souls of the faithful to God, their loving Father and Creator.

On this day, the despair of man gives way to hope, as the veil of darkness that have blinded and surrounded us all these while has been pierced by the Light that Christ has brought into our midst. He renewed us and made our existence meaningful again by His Passion, His suffering, death on the cross and ultimately, His resurrection from the dead. He is in fact showing all of us the glory that is to come, if we remain steadfast in our faith and love for Him.

As we enter into this holy and blessed season of Easter, it is therefore important that we understand its significance and also what is expected of us all as Christians, through what we have heard in our Scripture passages today. We must remember that the celebration of Easter does not last just for this day only, as the liturgical celebration of the Easter season lasts for a total of fifty days until the Solemnity of the Pentecost.

But even more importantly, we must also realise that the celebration of Easter does not also last just until Pentecost Sunday, but also through the rest of the days of our life. It means that the spirit and celebration of Easter must extend so completely and pervades so well into our lives that we exhibit that spirit of Easter, that joy and passion to live out our calling as Christians at every moments of our respective lives.

The most important aspect of Easter that we must realise is one of transformation of our lives. Through Easter, by Our Lord’s resurrection, and earlier on through His suffering and death, God has united us all to Himself, and we have been called to share in His suffering and death, to endure the pain and suffering, the challenges and difficulties of denying our own selves, our prideful, our egoistic, our greedy, our lustful and our sinful selves, and embrace the new existence in Christ.

It is not easy to change ourselves, and to resist the many temptations of this world that are ever present and ever pervasive around us. And we will indeed face many opposition, hurdles and obstacles, rejection and refusal even from those whom we deem to be close to us and dear to us. And it will be difficult and challenging for us to endure the physical, mental and even spiritual sufferings of committing ourselves to the way of the Lord.

It is because Satan, that is the devil and all of his allies, the forces of darkness, are unwilling to let us go away into our freedom. They will do whatever is within their power, in order to tempt us, to persuade us, and even to force and pressure us into bowing once again to sin. They were once our slavemasters, as they enslaved us through sin, and they wanted nothing less than our own ruin and downfall.

But the Lord is always with us, even when we do not realise it. Even in the moments of our greatest sufferings and pain, we must remember that Christ, Who Himself has endured suffering and pain far greater than any one of us have ever suffered, as He bore down the enormous weight of the cross of our sins, is by our side and He will not abandon us to those who seek our destruction and annihilation.

In the Gospel passage often used for the Evening Mass of Easter Sunday today, we heard the famous story of the encounter between the Lord and the two disciples who were on their way to the neighbouring town of Emmaus showed us, that the Lord is always there to encourage us and to give us strength, and a lot of times we did not even know that He was there, just as the two disciples did not recognise Jesus even as He was walking with them. They only recognised Him when He broke the bread before them and their eyes and minds were opened.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, having heard all of these and having spent some time discussing about what Easter truly means and how it is filled with joy that each and every one of us must carry on in our own lives, now we should reflect on how we can follow the examples of the Apostles and the followers of the Lord, who carried with them the knowledge and witness of the Lord’s truth, His Passion, death and resurrection.

We heard how in our first reading today, St. Peter the Apostle was very passionate and spirited in his testimony of faith before the people, and this was made when he went to the house of Cornelius, a Roman who became a believer of Jesus and His truth, and by the testimony of faith which St. Peter spoke before him and his family, they all became firmer in their conviction of faith, and the Holy Spirit Himself came down upon all of them, encouraging them and strengthening them in their commitment and faith.

And this represents what we all need to do as Christians, in how we live out our lives with faith, in how we dedicate ourselves as the witnesses and as the bearers of God’s truth as presented in the wholeness of our Christian faith and teachings. Each and every one of us must be bearers of God’s truth and dedicate ourselves to live up to our faith in our daily living, so that all of those who see us and all that we do, will recognise the presence of God in our midst, for through our actions, filled with faith and love for God, God Himself will be present in our midst through them.

What does that mean, brothers and sisters in Christ? And how do we then carry on with our lives from now on as Christians? It means that first of all, we must have the resolve to live our lives with righteousness and dedication to God, we must keep away from ourselves all actions and thoughts, all things that lead us to sin and disobedience against God. We must be role models of faith for our fellow brethren, and show in us, the Light of God as He has revealed to us this Easter.

And then, we should also have that firm hope in the Lord and strong trust in Him, knowing that He is always there with us, even when at times it may be difficult for us to feel and to know of His presence. That is why we often need to spend more time with God, as many of us are frequently distracted by numerous worldly temptations and pressures, that prevented us from truly being able to know God’s presence in our midst.

We need to deepen our relationship with God, by spending more time with God in prayer. And when we pray, we are actually opening up our minds, hearts and senses to be more attuned with God, and that is when, we will be better able to sense God’s presence in our midst, and thus, we will remain close to Him no matter whatever troubles and challenges we may face in life. And by our faith, many more will come to believe in God.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we enter into this joyous and blessed season of Easter, let us all no longer despair or be doubtful, for God Himself has shown His faithfulness through the cross, and by His resurrection He has shown us the path forward towards eternal life. Let us all be ever closer to God and realise that He is always with us, guiding us along the journey of our lives.

Let us all turn wholeheartedly towards Him from now on, and be truly filled with the spirit of Easter joy, that we may be committed to share this joy with one another, especially with those who are doubting, those who are unsure about their faith, and those who are faltering in their dedication to God. And let us also bring the light of Christ to more people, to all those who are still enslaved by sin and by the darkness of this world. May the Risen Lord bless us and all of our endeavours, now and forevermore. Amen.

Sunday, 21 April 2019 : Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Colossians 3 : 1-4

So then, if you are risen with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things that are above, not on earthly things. For you have died and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, Who is your life, reveals Himself, you also will be revealed with Him in Glory.

Alternative reading

1 Corinthians 5 : 6b-8

Do you not know that a little yeast makes the whole mass of dough rise? Throw out, then, the old yeast and be new dough. If Christ became our Passover, you should be unleavened bread. Let us celebrate, therefore, the Passover, no longer with old yeast, which is sin and perversity; let us have unleavened bread, that is purity and sincerity.

Sunday, 21 April 2019 : Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 117 : 1-2, 16ab-17, 22-23

Alleluia! Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, His loving kindness endures forever. Let Israel say, “His loving kindness endures forever.”

The right hand of the Lord is lifted high, the right hand of the Lord strikes mightily! I shall not die, but live to proclaim what the Lord has done.

The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing and we marvel at it.

Sunday, 21 April 2019 : Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 10 : 34a, 37-43

Peter then spoke to them, “No doubt you have heard of the event that occurred throughout the whole country of the Jews, beginning from Galilee, after the baptism John preached. You know how God anointed Jesus the Nazarean with Holy Spirit and power.”

“He went about doing good and healing all who were under the devil’s power, because God was with Him; we are witnesses of all that He did throughout the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem itself. Yet they put Him to death by hanging Him on a wooden cross.”

But God raised Him to life on the third day and let Him manifest Himself, not to all the people, but to the witnesses that were chosen beforehand by God – to us who ate and drank with Him after His resurrection from death. And He commanded hs to preach to the people and to bear witness that He is the One appointed by God to judge the living and the dead. All the prophets say of Him, that everyone who believes in Him has forgiveness of sins through His Name.”

Sunday, 20 May 2018 : Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this great occasion we celebrate together as one united and one Universal Church, the Solemnity of the Pentecost, marking the moment when the Church was born and began to make its mark in this world, through the descent of the Holy Spirit on the disciples and the Apostles of the Lord. The Holy Spirit was promised by the Lord Jesus, as the Advocate and Guide, that would be with His disciples, and would empower them for the missions they had been entrusted with.

The coming of the Holy Spirit transformed all the disciples who received this great gift from God, for they were initially afraid and in fact, paranoid over the threats from the Pharisees and the chief priests who sternly warned all those who believe and preach in the Lord’s Name. They locked themselves up in the room, just as we heard from the accounts of the Lord’s appearances to them after His resurrection. They were plagued with fear and lack of faith.

But God reassured them that He would not leave them or abandon them. Not only that He would always with be them, at their side, all the time, but He would also send the Holy Spirit Who would reveal to them the entirety of the truth which He had taught and delivered unto this world. And indeed, that was what happened. The tongues of flame that descended upon the disciples gave them the truth, as well as the courage needed to speak up that truth and deliver the truth to others around them.

That was how they went out to speak courageously among the people who were gathered in Jerusalem for the festival, each hearing the disciples spoke in his or her own language. This is truly significant in symbolism, as the first reading from the Vigil Mass spoke about the Tower of Babel in the Book of Genesis. The Tower of Babel represented mankind’s failed attempt to claim greatness and glory, as they attempted to surpass God by building up a tower reaching up to the heavens itself.

God scattered them all by confusing their languages, and no one could understand what the others were talking about. As such, the division prevented the great Tower of Babel from being completed. Then, in the end, God countered this, by sending His Holy Spirit, that granted those who believe in Him, the spirit of true comprehension and understanding of the truth, and the gift of tongues, of speaking in various languages, the exact opposite of what had happened at the Tower of Babel.

Mankind have detached themselves from God, by their disobedience that led to sin. Sin, just as the wickedness shown by the people who were building the Tower of Babel showed that by doing what is haughty, arrogant and unbecoming of God’s people, we have deserved the consequence of division and separation, and as a result, that is why there are still so many souls out there, because God’s light and truth have not materialised in these people, and many of them have not yet received or accepted that truth.

This means that the Holy Spirit is not just the bearer of truth, but also unity. For it was through the Holy Spirit that the fullness of truth had been revealed to us, and those who put their faith and commit themselves to this fullness of truth, belong to the one and only Church of God, that is, the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, the one and united Body of Christ, under the leadership of Christ’s Vicar, the Pope, successor of St. Peter the Apostle.

And today, as I mentioned at the very start of today’s discourse, we celebrate the anniversary of the birthday of the Church, for the Church which Christ established on this world, became tangible and real at the Pentecost, as the disciples went forth from their hiding place, and courageously spoke in front of the multitudes of people, and converted not less than three thousand among them, and those together with the disciples and the Apostles, formed the first foundation and beginning of the Church.

It was this event, which highlighted to us the most important and fundamental mission of the Church, that is the missionary and evangelistic calling to all Christians, as members of God’s Church, to proclaim the truth we have received and kept, to all the peoples, of all the nations, just as He commanded the disciples at the moment just before He ascended to heaven, the Great Commission that He gave to all of us, and which He entrusted all of us to do.

Unfortunately, many of us have not realised this fact, and this obligation which we have as Christians. Instead, the sad reality is that, many of us are still lukewarm about our faith, and we do not truly understand what our faith is about. And that is how many of us ended up falling back into our old ways, into wickedness and sin, and we end up like the people building the Tower of Babel once again, sundered and separated, this time from the unity with God in His Church.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, I am speaking to you about the real crisis facing many of us Christians living in today’s world. There are many among us, who leave the Church and become Christians on paper and in formality only, after we completed our faith formation and catechism, the turning point often quoted being the Sacrament of Confirmation. It is at the reception of this holy Sacrament of Confirmation that we are confirmed in our faith by the Holy Spirit.

Unfortunately, many of us considered that, both the confirmands and the family members, as a mere rite of passage, that is once done, is done and nothing else need to be done. That is simply not true, brothers and sisters in Christ. The Holy Spirit that God has given us, has given us the principal gifts of love, hope and faith, as well as the well-known seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, that is Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety and Fear of the Lord.

But all these will remain dormant and will be meaningless unless we truly practice our faith and live our lives in accordance with our faith. And this is where I want to remind us all about a parable that Christ had shared with His disciples, that is the parable of the sower. In that parable, which I am sure many of us are quite familiar with, the Lord Jesus shared with us about the seeds that the sower planted, which fell on different types of soil, and how only in the rich and fertile soil, that the seeds grew into crop-bearing plants with much produce.

In that parable, we heard how the Lord spoke of those whose seeds fell into barren soil, or place where brambles and thorns grew, or on the roadside and picked up by birds, which all spoke of the obstacles and challenges, and all the temptations and hurdles awaiting all of us as Christians in our attempt and journey to live a faithful life accentuated by living and genuine Christian faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us spend some time to reflect on our own individual lives, and in how we have lived our lives thus far, and how we have interacted with one another, as well as in our relationship with God. How many times has it been that we are jealous at one another, or become angry at one another, just because we refuse to back down from our pride and ego?

And how many of us truly reflect a genuine and authentic Christian faith in our respective lives? How many of us have instead been so preoccupied with our busy schedules and worldly pursuits, of power, of wealth, of fame and affluence, of pleasures of the body and the flesh, and many other tempting things, that we forgot to act as good and committed Christians? I am sure that many of us have fallen into these traps of the devil before.

Therefore, now, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all seek a thorough and complete transformation of ourselves, in our whole being, that while once we were separated from God and living in ignorance and darkness, now through the Holy Spirit, we have received the fullness of truth and faith, and we ought to make use of those wonderful gifts God had given us, or else, our faith is shallow, dead and empty.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us ask the Holy Spirit to guide us in our respective lives, and let us pray to God, that through the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we may be transformed completely, and changed profoundly, to be true disciples and beloved children of God, who are worthy partakers of God’s everlasting Covenant. May the Lord be with us always, and may the Holy Spirit guide our path always. Come, Holy Spirit and fill our hearts with God truth and love. Amen.

Sunday, 20 May 2018 : Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

John 15 : 26-27 and John 16 : 12-15

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “From the Father, I will send you the Spirit of truth. When this Helper has come from the Father, He will be My witness, and you, too, will be My witnesses, for you have been with Me from the beginning. I still have many things to tell you, but you cannot bear them now. When He, the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into the whole truth.”

“For He will not speak of His own authority, but will speak what He hears, and He will tell you about the things which are to come. He will take what is Mine and make it known to you; in doing this, He will glorify Me. All that the Father has is Mine; for this reason, I told you that the Spirit will take what is Mine, and make it known to you.”